"Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination."
I love the new year. It's the time of year that brings awareness to every individual's state of being. When the first of January knocks at the door, everyone takes a thorough inventory of their life and acknowledges where they would like to make improvements. Resolutions are made, cigarettes are tossed into the trash, toxic boyfriends are left behind, ice cream is banished from the freezer. January yields a surge in gym memberships, casting workshops fill up quicker than a binge drinker's bladder, and today's lunch line at the salad bar extended around the block. Only the cold-hearted and supremely arrogant are immune from the effects of the motivation brought by the promise of a fresh start in a brand spanking-new year. (Though ironically, they are arguably the ones who need it most.)
2011 was very very good to me. I will forever look back on the 2011 New Year as the moment in time when everything "clicked" for me. After years of spinning wheels, and even abandoning the wheels altogether, it was 2011 when I began to climb a mountain.
To start my climb, I broke that mountain down into phases. Instead of going after the summit right away, I tackled the sloping hills at the base. I entered into "Phase I: Creating the Brand." I evaluated myself and decided what my three most marketable and easily accessible character types were. Then I completely reconstructed my business around them... new headshots, new reel, official website, business cards, post cards, stationary. Everything was integrated to have a cohesive brand and feel that reflected not only my look and type, but also my personality. Once I had the proper tools in place, I began with "Phase II: Brand Awareness." This consisted of evaluating who my target casting directors would be, seeking them out in workshops, sending notes and postcards and getting my Name out there.
I set small but concrete goals in three-month increments. I only focused on what I could accomplish in 90 days. I wrote down every detail, breaking it down to the smallest tangible task. I wanted to give myself the satisfaction of drawing a thick black line through an item on my list as many times as possible. It feels incredible to draw that line. Out-of-this-world good. And as the page gets more and more congested with thick black lines, they get more and more satisfying to draw.
When I sat down last night to write out my next set of goals, I decided to review my old 2008 list. It was a list I made with my ex-manager six months into my life in Los Angeles. (After I spent the first six months learning stupid baseline stuff like Santa Monica Boulevard runs East and West and Sepulveda is pronounced suh-PULL-vu-duh, not Supple-VAY-duh. Yep, those first six months were devoted to learning and correcting all those little tells that betrayed me as fresh from LAX... well actually I drove here, so more precisely, fresh off the Grapevine.)
That 2008 goals list contained my first real plans for my initial moves in this business: get an agent, book a commercial, get SAG eligibility, book role in a feature film... Those were literally the items on my list. Unsurprisingly, most of the goals on that list remained unaccomplished for 2008. In fact, most of the goals remained largely unaccomplished for 2009 as well. So in 2010, I packed that list away in a box in the top of the closet, right next to where I'm pretty sure I stashed my motivation to do anything as an actress.
But then 2011 came knocking at my door... and I gladly welcomed him in. Last night, as I was looking at my 2008 goals list, I realize that I'd accomplished them all in 2011. I booked commercials, features and pilots. Without a theatrical agent, I even managed to get myself repeatedly called in for co-star roles on a primetime NBC television show. Not only did I become SAG eligible, but a full member and also booked an AFTRA principle contract. If this career really is a mountain, then I am looking back on some serious altitude gained in the last year. Most of the mountain still lies ahead, but I've made it up the first scramble, I'm past the main trail head.
Yes, 2011 was a very strong year. And guess what? It wasn't strong because I got lucky. It wasn't strong because I got discovered. It was strong because I busted my ass and made my own luck. I worked hard and smart, day in and day out, and I saw substantial results. And let me tell you, there are no greater motivators to push forward than real, observable results.
So 2012 begins "Phase III: Building Momentum and Refining the Brand." A new year to build on my first real year in the business. 2012 is the year of the Dragon, which is a year of prosperity, luck and success. I'm a hundred times more confident and motivated this New Year than I was 365 days ago... 2011 may have been strong... but 2012 is going to roar.
Get your goals down on paper, and help me breath fire all over this town...